‘Townshend with boobs’

Local band The Spark reviews its Reno Jazz Club show

Drummer Andy Dicus is said to never practice.

Drummer Andy Dicus is said to never practice.

Andy never practices. Our drummer is a jazzman, which, I think, means that beyond appreciating textures and rhythms and Miles Davis, Andy Dicus enjoys the pleasures of freefalling through music.

I’m Jen, and I play guitar and sing and write some songs in local band, The Spark. I’m obsessive and weird and if I had my way, we’d know how most of our songs end and how all of them start. This is not how we do things.

Eric Foreman plays bass and sings and writes the other songs in our band. Hooray for Eric who, among the best bass players, embodies both structure and spontaneity. He reminds me, often, that confusion is good for inspiration, and says that yes, “sloppy charming” is a perfectly acceptable way to describe our sound.

Recently, we put “sloppy charming” on display at the Reno Jazz Club.

Opening a four-band show is an unenviable task. At this Oct. 12 show, the crowd huddled inside away from the cold, and since they seemed eager to be rocked, we thought we’d rock them. We figured that if they decided against being rocked, at least we’d have a good time. So we opened with Eric’s post-punk rocker, “Another Song,” and the show-goers responded with applause. Andy held our old songs hostage and we played two under-rehearsed new songs. Eric and I hadn’t known that these new songs were rock songs, yet Andy drummed the rock right into them. The too-cool kids bobbed their heads.

We played “Good Angel,” a six-minute country pop song about drinking and smoking and girls, and people sang along. We didn’t break anything. I didn’t fall down. Or remember the guitar solo. Old Drunk Guy tried to play Eric’s bass. We showcased new songs like the almost-shoegazey-except-for-the-stupid-chorus, “Revolutions per Decade” and the nearly-emo “Where Do the Spinal Tap Drummers Go When They Die?” and people stayed inside. We closed the set with “Five Alarm Fire,” which will inevitably become one of those ubiquitous radio hits/car commercial songs, and we’ll have to play it every night for 25 years, which will inspire me to go up a clock tower. But on this night, anyway, we ripped through it and the crowd cheered.

In my head, I was Pete Townshend with boobs, Ani DiFranco with more humor and less politics, Kim Deal without the baggage, and every 15-year-old punk rock boy with a guitar. Eric channeled Paul Westerberg, Robert Smith and Jeff Tweedy. Andy let his jazz flag fly and somehow we held it all together. It was a gorgeous mess of three-piece power-pop gone astray. That’s how I remember it. Eric tells me it was more like this:

“We rocked. It was great.”

When I asked Andy what he thought of our performance that night, he said, “Let’s assume there are two types of love: Little ‘l’ love and big ‘L’ Love. Big ‘L’ Love occupies literary spaces, haunts the lonely and the romantic, fits in your palm and looks like the sky. Little ‘l’ love plays out over sinks, socks and papers, hair-combings and TV. … Spark shows are little ‘l’ love. What you always get from a Spark show is the honesty of three people with enough sense to not ever take themselves seriously, and enough integrity to hero-worship music.”


I ramble, Eric gets to the point, and Andy makes sense without, somehow, making any sense. Just like the live show.